Steve Lacy Turns Radius Into an R&B Oasis

The delicacy of the singer’s vocals contrasted intense instrumentals to create a blend of R&B, pop and rock elements.

“Once upon a time, I came to Chicago on my Give You The World Tour,” R&B singer Steve Lacy said to a sold-out crowd during his Oct. 5 performance. “And I gave you the world.” 

Lacy brought his Give You The World Tour to Radius Chicago (640 W. Cermak Road) performing his July album “Gemini Rights.” The California-born singer packed his setlist with recent releases and past projects, turning the venue into a sanctuary for both new and old fans.

At 7 p.m., Lacy’s opening act Fousheé kicked off the night with a sonically complex performance. The delicacy of the singer’s vocals contrasted intense instrumentals to create a blend of R&B, pop and rock elements. The crowd sang along to her viral hit “Deep End” (2020) which amplified their energy for the main act.

Following the crowd’s audible impatience between acts, Lacy’s band made their way to the stage and positioned themselves behind silver and blue fixtures reminiscent of the “Gemini Rights” album cover.

White lighting illuminated the stage as the musicians began to play the intro to “Buttons,” the fourth track on Lacy’s most recent album. 

The singer emerged through dense fog wearing a white button-up shirt with an “S” on the front and a target on the back. A pair of blue goggles completed his outfit, which he also wore in recent music videos. With an electric guitar hanging around his neck, Lacy sauntered downstage. 

A strong drumbeat and steady bass line supported Lacy’s smooth vocals and would evidently be a consistent aspect of the show. Synths and guitar riffs elevated the otherwise stable opening song. 

Lacy’s retro-funk sound captivated fans and audience members throughout his setlist of new and old songs (Ella Govrik | The Phoenix).

The show picked up speed during his second song “Mercury.” Lacy traded his electric guitar for an acoustic and plucked its strings while displaying his impressively high vocal range during the song’s introduction. 

Following the two tracks from his recent release, Lacy appealed to fans of his earlier solo work by playing a series of songs from his first album “Apollo XXI” (2019) and his EP “Steve Lacy’s Demos” (2017). Songs like “Playground,” “N Side” and “Lay Me Down” served as a testament to the singer’s consistent funk and R&B style. 

As he bounced around the stage, Lacy showed off groovy dance moves and magnetic energy. His engagement with the crowd through hand gestures and constant movement built a sense of community throughout the venue. Colorful lighting combined with lingering fog from the singer’s entrance blanketed fans, whose retro aesthetic matched Lacy’s ‘70s vibe.

The sense of unity and love between the 24-year-old singer and his fans strengthened as the show continued.

“I love how many of you guys are smiling,” Lacy said to the crowd between songs. “That’s such a beautiful thing.”

Skilled vocal runs during “Ryd” displayed the singer’s musical advancement and a crowd-led chorus during “Infrunami” was proof of his established fan-base.

As he neared the end of the show, Fousheé made a reappearance on stage for a performance of “Sunshine,”a track from “Gemini Rights” on which she’s featured.

The two singers radiated artistic chemistry. Fousheé danced around the stage as she delivered airy vocals and Lacy traded off between complex guitar riffs and effortless singing.

Lacy concluded his setlist with “Bad Habit.” In an effort to excite the audience, he briefly teased the hit song’s intro before confessing his gratitude for the song’s success as the number one song in the country.

Fans immediately began dancing and singing along, muffling the singer’s voice with their own rendition. Still, Lacy was dissatisfied with the crowd’s enthusiasm. He quickly stopped the song.

“That’s giving number five energy,” Lacy said. “We’re number one baby, let’s act like it.”

The crowd complied and poured the remainder of their energy into devoutly belting along to the last few moments of Lacy’s performance. Lacy danced around the stage and interacted with the crowd, even pointing and singing to his biggest fan of the night — a stuffed Pikachu held up by an audience member.

The crowd expressed their disappointment in the show’s supposed end, practically begging Lacy for one more song. To their content, the singer returned for a two-song encore. Before the encore, Lacy’s humor and charisma were on display as he ran between both sides of the stage, inviting fans to take photos as he hit several poses.

His slowed version of “C U Girl” hinted at a relaxed ending to an energetic night, but “Dark Red” rebuilt the steady liveliness which had filled the room throughout the show. An intense guitar solo, dark red lighting and a kiss blown to the audience concluded Lacy’s set.

Gemini Rights,” along with the rest of Steve Lacy’s discography, is available on all major streaming platforms.

Featured image courtesy of Ella Govrik | The Phoenix

Ella Govrik

Ella Govrik